Leadership is not an easy task and if you find it easy you are likely not actually leading. Leaders continually make decisions, tackle problems, provide inspiration, make corrections, and move the organization forward. The size of the problems you are tasked to handle is a pretty good indicator of the level of your leadership. No one desires to delegate big problems to ineffective leaders. You don’t have to be the person in charge to provide leadership. Having a title does not make one a leader and the absence of a title does not prevent one from leading (influencing). Most people who lead do so from the middle. I hope you have taken the time to read the previous two articles as I share the lessons I have learned leading from the middle. Here are the final three lessons:
- Always attend to personal growth. A leader forfeits his or her right to lead at the point that they stop growing. Age and maturity can be advantageous but become irrelevant at the point personal growth ceases. For the spiritual leader the growth rides on two rails. You must give attention to spiritual growth and skills growth. Those who grow spiritually, but fail to grow in skills put a cap on their abilities. Those who grow in their skills but fail to grow spiritually put a cap on their influence. Those who fail in both areas cannot ever lead because they will lack ability and influence. Are you growing spiritually? What are you doing to develop the skills you need for your leadership role? Growth does not stop when you get the position, earn the degree, or accomplish a mission. It never stops. But, if it does, your leadership is neutralized.
- Make relationships a priority no matter what the assignment is. Leadership is always more about people than tasks. A leader naturally has to attend to responsibilities, administration, strategy, records, budgets, planning, and management. The desk perpetually calls for attention. However, people are always more important. I have heard it said that “change moves at the speed of trust.” Where does trust come from? Good relationships. Relationships build trust, provide a personal safety net during difficulties, create enjoyment, enhance understanding, and brings alignment to the mission to which you are called. One of the abilities, effective leaders possess is good people skills. Make relationships a priority and people skills a focus of your skills development.
- Invest time in helping others to grow. How do you grow an organization? How do you grow a church? One key is to grow the people and the growth of the church or organization tends to follow. Ephesians 4:11-16 specifically speaks to this unchanging principle. In the local church I often observe enlistment as a seasonal activity before the “new year” begins and equipping as an annual event. For the effective leader, enlistment and equipping never end and are not confined to seasons. In what areas do you help others grow? Refer back to point number nine above. Help them develop skills needed for their task. That differs for a Bible study leader, a welcome center coordinator, or a secretary. Identify the skills they need and give them the tools to grow. The track of spiritual growth can be the same for all, although that may also differ based on the maturity level of those you are leading. The primary responsibility of any leader is to develop leaders. How is it going?
I have a total list of thirty points for those who lead from the middle. But this is an article and not a book. Maybe it will be some day. But, for now I hope and pray that you are better equipped to lead and to help others who serve alongside you to lead from the middle. If so, you have taken a significant step in maximizing your leadership.